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Matt Reimann
Reader, specializing in Twentieth Century and contemporary fiction. Committed to spreading an infectious passion for literature, language, and stories.

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A Quick Guide to Bill Clinton and His Autobiography, My Life

By Matt Reimann. Aug 19, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American History

William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton received a $15 million dollar advance for his autobiography, My Life (2004)⁠—one of the largest advances ever received for a book. By all measures, the book was a great financial success, selling 2,250,000 copies and earning Clinton $30 million dollars. Yet this achievement did not come easily; it took Clinton over two years to write the book, written in longhand in sixteen notebooks, with no help from a ghost writer.

     
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V.S. Naipaul and Other Writers Who Hated Their Biographies

By Matt Reimann. Aug 17, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Biographies

Writers are often meticulous and private people. Thus, the creation of authorized biographies can be a contentious matter. Some authors, like Nobel Laureate V.S. Naipaul, allowed a biographer into their home and shared personal information only to find that the resulting biography presented a person foreign to themselves. Although the biographer has a greater duty to his work than to his subject, one can understand why many authors feel betrayed at the end of the process. This article will catalog a few bitter episodes between authors and their biographers including V.S. Naipaul, William S. Burroughs, and Vladimir Nabokov.

     
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Unexpected Meetings Between Legendary Authors and Celebrities

By Matt Reimann. Aug 6, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Authors are contributors to their culture, and as part of the job, they tend to cross paths with their famous contemporaries. These can be other authors, artists, actors, leaders, and cultural icons, and at times can create some rather unlikely pairings. Here are a few of these moments immortalized on camera.

     
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Raymond Chandler: Making Pulp Serious

Raymond Chandler is one of those rare authors who reminds the literary establishment that genre has no bearing over a book’s quality. Chandler bridged gaps in his career. His work helped bring crime fiction to academics, and the serious novel to Hollywood studios. He considered himself an intellectual snob and loved Charles Dickens, Henry James, and Ernest Hemingway. He was a man who studied Greek and Latin, but Chandler emphasized that his own strange preferences brought him to the world of the detective story.

     
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Washington Irving: Champion of American Literature at Home and Abroad

By Matt Reimann. Apr 2, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American Literature, Literature

When "The Legend of Sleep Hollow" was published in 1820, the United States of America was a young nation. American-born authors were decades away from producing central classics like Leaves of Grass and Moby-Dick, and the cultural direction of this brave new world was anyone’s guess. The country was in need of a strong and talented writer to steer her on the right course. This author was Washington Irving.

     
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The Man Behind the Newbery Medal

By Matt Reimann. Jan 9, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Children's Books, Awarded Books, Newbery Award

The Newbery Medal is given out each year by the American Library Association (ALA) for outstanding achievement in American children's literature (watch for our post announcing this year's winner later this month!). For over ninety years, it has been a significant authority on the reception and evolution of children's books. Its impact is well known. Winning books receive widespread attention in libraries, schools, and book stores, and the publisher is wont to emblazon the shiny medallion on the cover of every printed copy of the winning book. While the award itself receives ample public attention, the man for whom it is named remains relatively obscure.

     
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The Quintessential Swiss-ness of Johanna Spyri's Heidi

By Matt Reimann. Nov 28, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Children's Books

As of this writing, some 50 million copies of Johanna Spyri’s Heidi have been sold. A precursor to children’s book heroines from Pippi Longstocking to Eloise, Heidi has earned herself a place in countless childhood memories. Intelligent, caring, effervescent, often in the face of considerable challenges, it is not so hard to see why Heidi continues to be beloved by millions. Amid such artful successes, it can be easy to forget what its author Johanna Spyri contributed to the culture and posterity of her native Switzerland.

     
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Five of the Best Western Novels

By Matt Reimann. Mar 22, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American History

In place of Romulus and Remus, of Ra and Isis, Americans created two popular mythic heroes: the superhero and the cowboy. While the superhero has only grown in its capacity as one of the United States’ most recognizable cultural exports (and as cinema’s most lucrative subject), the Western genre has diminished in status, falling from the wide popularity on television it enjoyed as recently as 40 years ago. The shift has come with justifiable reason, as an increasingly skeptical audience finds it hard to identify heroism within a violent environment built on the deliberate extermination of the American Indian, and other historical crimes.

     
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The Books That Made Oscar-Winning Movies

By Matt Reimann. Mar 3, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Movie Tie-Ins

Every solitary professional novelist, whether she is aware of the fact or not, is a kind of trial balloon for the movie industry. Before studios spend millions of dollars—sometimes hundreds of millions—on actors, directors, crew, locations, distribution, and more, they prefer to have proof that a particular story resonates with an audience. Successful plays are often adapted, with movies like Driving Miss Daisy and Hamlet being notable Best Picture winners of this sort. But prose, in the form of memoirs, nonfiction books, novels, and short stories, appears to be the most fertile ground for Hollywood when it comes to seizing the next big idea.

     
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Four Interesting Facts About John Steinbeck

By Matt Reimann. Feb 27, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, American Literature

There were only two authors whose work I encountered in each year of high school: Shakespeare and John Steinbeck. His novellas like The Pearl and Of Mice and Men, his novels The Grapes of Wrath and East of Eden, even his inspiring Nobel address, informed my burgeoning understanding of what an American writer sought to accomplish and examine. Steinbeck turned his attention and sympathy toward that majority of people—those who toil, who care for their family, who seek joy and exaltation in however rare supply those delights may be. His style, mixing the merits of both American plainspokenness and figurative language, comforts me whenever I need to pull something off the shelf.

     
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How can I identify a first edition? Where do I learn about caring for books? How should I start collecting? Hear from librarians about amazing collections, learn about historic bindings or printing techniques, get to know other collectors. Whether you are just starting or looking for expert advice, chances are, you'll find something of interest on blogis librorum.

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